How to Grow Lemongrass from Seed

How to Grow Lemongrass from Seed
Gracie Owens
Gracie Owens she/her - Author at YardPrep October 01, 2023

Lemongrass is a versatile and aromatic herb that can be grown from seed with the right knowledge and techniques. In this article, we will guide you through the process of growing lemongrass from seed, from choosing the right seeds to caring for the seedlings and transplanting them into their final growing location.

How to Grow Lemongrass from Seed

To grow lemongrass from seed, start by soaking the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. Then, plant the seeds in a well-draining potting mix and keep them moist. Place the pot in a warm and sunny location, and germination should occur within 2-3 weeks. Once the seedlings are established, transplant them into larger containers or directly into the garden, ensuring they have plenty of space to grow.

Choosing the Right Seeds

Before you start growing lemongrass from seed, it is important to choose the right seeds. There are different varieties of lemongrass, each with its own unique characteristics. Consider factors such as flavor, growth habit, and disease resistance when selecting the variety that suits your needs best.

1. Variety Selection

Some popular varieties of lemongrass include East Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). East Indian lemongrass is known for its strong lemony flavor and is often used in cooking, while West Indian lemongrass has a milder taste and is commonly used for making teas and essential oils.

2. Seed Quality

When purchasing lemongrass seeds, it is important to look for high-quality seeds for optimal germination. Look for seeds that are plump, firm, and free from any signs of damage or disease. Avoid seeds that are discolored or shriveled, as they may not germinate well.

3. Seed Sources

Reliable sources for purchasing lemongrass seeds include reputable nurseries, garden centers, and online seed suppliers. Make sure to choose a source that offers fresh and viable seeds. You can also consider saving seeds from your own lemongrass plants if you have them.

Preparing the Seeds for Planting

Before sowing lemongrass seeds, it is important to prepare them properly to enhance germination.

1. Seed Soaking

Soaking lemongrass seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting can help soften the seed coat and promote germination. Fill a container with warm water and place the seeds in it. Make sure the water covers the seeds completely. After 24 hours, remove the seeds from the water and pat them dry before planting.

2. Seed Scarification

Some lemongrass seeds have a hard seed coat that can inhibit germination. To break the seed coat and improve seedling emergence, you can scarify the seeds. This can be done by gently rubbing the seeds with sandpaper or nicking them with a sharp knife. Be careful not to damage the inner part of the seed.

3. Seed Stratification

Some varieties of lemongrass require a period of cold stratification to simulate natural winter conditions and promote germination. To stratify the seeds, place them in a sealed plastic bag with a moistened paper towel and refrigerate them for 4-6 weeks. After stratification, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before planting.

Sowing and Germination

Once the seeds are prepared, it's time to sow them and promote successful germination.

1. Timing

The best time to sow lemongrass seeds is in the spring, after the last frost date. This allows the seedlings to establish themselves before the hot summer months.

2. Soil Preparation

Prepare the soil by loosening it with a garden fork or tiller. Remove any weeds or debris and amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve drainage and fertility.

3. Sowing Techniques

There are different methods of sowing lemongrass seeds, including direct sowing and starting them indoors. Direct sowing involves planting the seeds directly into the prepared soil, while starting them indoors allows you to get a head start on the growing season. Choose the method that works best for you.

4. Germination Conditions

Lemongrass seeds require warm temperatures, moisture, and light to germinate. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged during the germination period. Provide a warm and sunny location for the seedlings, or use a grow light if starting them indoors.

Caring for Lemongrass Seedlings

Once the lemongrass seedlings emerge, it is important to provide them with proper care to ensure healthy growth.

1. Watering

Water the seedlings regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as lemongrass prefers well-drained soil. Water deeply, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

2. Fertilizing

Feed the lemongrass seedlings with a balanced organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to provide them with the nutrients they need for healthy growth. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for application rates.

3. Pest and Disease Control

Monitor the seedlings for common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. If pests are present, treat them with organic pest control methods such as insecticidal soap or neem oil. Keep an eye out for signs of disease, such as fungal infections, and take appropriate measures to prevent or treat them.

Transplanting Lemongrass Seedlings

When the lemongrass seedlings have grown to a suitable size, it's time to transplant them into their final growing location.

1. Choosing the Planting Site

Select a sunny location with well-drained soil for transplanting the lemongrass seedlings. Lemongrass thrives in full sun and requires at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be fertile and rich in organic matter.

2. Transplanting Techniques

To transplant the lemongrass seedlings, dig a hole in the prepared soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of the seedling. Gently remove the seedling from its container and place it in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the seedling.

3. Post-Transplant Care

After transplanting, water the seedlings thoroughly to help them establish their roots. Provide regular waterings as needed, especially during dry periods. Mulching around the seedlings can help conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Monitor the plants for any signs of stress or disease and take appropriate action if needed.


Growing lemongrass from seed can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to enjoy the fresh and aromatic flavors of this versatile herb. By choosing the right seeds, preparing them properly, and providing the necessary care, you can successfully grow lemongrass from seed and enjoy its many culinary and medicinal benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is lemongrass hard to grow from seed?

Growing lemongrass from seed can be a bit challenging, but with the right conditions and care, it is definitely possible. It requires a warm and humid environment, well-drained soil, and regular watering. Patience is key as it can take several weeks for the seeds to germinate and grow into mature plants.

Does lemon grass come back every year?

Yes, lemongrass is a perennial plant, which means it can come back every year if properly cared for. In colder climates, it may die back during winter, but it will regrow from the roots in spring. Providing protection or bringing it indoors during winter can help ensure its survival.

When should I plant lemongrass seeds?

Lemongrass seeds should be planted in early spring, after the last frost has passed and the soil temperature has warmed up. This will provide the ideal conditions for germination and growth. Starting the seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost date can also be beneficial.

Will lemongrass survive winter?

Lemongrass is a tropical plant that prefers warm temperatures and cannot tolerate frost. In colder regions, it is best to either bring the plant indoors during winter or provide protection by mulching heavily around the base. This will help the plant survive the winter and regrow in the following spring.

How long does it take for lemongrass seeds to germinate?

Lemongrass seeds typically take around 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. However, the germination process can vary depending on factors such as temperature and moisture. Providing consistent warmth and moisture will help speed up the germination process.

Can I grow lemongrass from store-bought stalks?

Yes, you can grow lemongrass from store-bought stalks. Simply trim the stalks and place them in a glass of water, making sure the bottom ends are submerged. After a few weeks, roots will start to grow. Once the roots are established, you can transfer the stalks to a pot or directly into the garden.

How often should I water lemongrass seeds?

Lemongrass seeds should be kept consistently moist during the germination period. Water them gently but thoroughly, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist. Once the plants have established, they should be watered regularly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.